Thursday, July 25, 2013

St. Wladyslaw Church, Subotniki

While this town is now part of Belarus (and less than 5 miles from Lithuania), it was once known as Sobotniki, Poland. For centuries, the land and everything on it belonged to the Umiastowski family, one of the oldest aristocratic lines in Eastern Europe. The parish's Catholic church was built in 1904-06 under the direction of the Count Wladyslaw and Countess Janina Umiastowski. It was finished shortly after the Count's death.

A mosaic portrait of the Count as a young man in his military uniform was made by Salviati and it hangs inside the church, to the left of the altar. The bronze gilt frame was from the Łopieńskich workshop in Warsaw and it contains the phrase "Frangas non flectas" ("Thou mayst break, but shall not bend me") and the Count's crown.

A Polish mason named Nowak was first tasked with creating a catacomb mausoleum under the main altar; however, a lot of time and money was wasted on the wrong type of marble and methods.

Finally, Swedish masons were brought in to construct the vaulted crypt under the church, which contains the final resting places of several members of the Umiastowski family. The entrance to the crypt also contains the family motto.

Salviati made the original mosaic decorations for the vaulted ceilings, however, artillery shelling damaged the crypt in 1927 and the Countess ordered a new blue ceiling with golden stars, as well as ten family crests. Salviati delivered the 80 square meters of new mosaics in 1928.

Barr, Sheldon. Venetian Glass Mosaics: 1860-1917. London: Antique Collectors' Club, 2008. 138.
Nalecz. Szmat Ziemi I Zycia. Vilnius: The Gebethner Bookshop & Wolff, 1928. 144-146 & 150.

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